Oxfordshire council sparks anger over decision to serve only vegan food at events

Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green Party alliance passed a rule banning meat and dairy products

Olivia Petter
Monday 20 December 2021 11:10

A debate surrounding veganism has erupted in the Oxfordshire county council after a rule was passed banning meat and dairy products from being served at official events.

On Tuesday 14 December, counsellor Ian Middleton proposed the motion prompting a 90-minute debate among the ruling Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green Party alliance.

The motion, which was agreed, read as follows: “This council recognises that global meat and dairy production is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation and that reducing consumption of these foods is a key part of tackling climate change.

“The government’s independent Climate Change Committee, advises that meat consumption should be reduced by a fifth, and that public bodies should promote plant-based foods. That and the avoidance of food waste are powerful ways to cut carbon emissions.

“Furthermore, in the UK, only 18 per cent of children consume the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and most young people’s diets lack fibre.

“Providing appealing plant-based school meals along with education on healthy, climate-positive food choices are excellent ways to address these problems.”

The council has therefore said that all food provided at catered council events will be entirely plant-based.

However, not all councillors are in agreement with the motion.

David Bartholomew, an opposition Conservative councillor, told The Times: “The Conservative opposition believes that veganism is a choice that should be respected.

“But it is not something that should be rammed down the throats of vegetarians and meat eaters. A carrot not a stick approach should be employed.”

Middleton countered: “We need to get people to reduce consumption of meat.

“Meals are provided to council six times a year. I felt that we should be embracing the opportunity to set an example and send the message out. I’d have thought that anyone with a genuine concern about the future of the ecosphere would see that as a pretty modest sacrifice for the sake of future generations.

“I’m not suggesting that all councillors should become vegan but that on those occasions food provided by the council should be plant-based. Councillors who don’t want to eat it don’t have to eat in the council chamber.”

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